The Drug War

Drugs:

Here’s the ‘official position’ of LP-Ga, from the platform page of their website:

“We believe the so-called “War on Drugs” is more accurately described as a war on freedom and the U.S. Constitution. It has provided a rationale by which the power of the state has been expanded to restrict greatly our 4th Amendment right to privacy, and poses an especially grave threat to individual liberty and to domestic order. Therefore, we call for the repeal of all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs. We wish to see an end to “anti-crime” measures that limit our rights to keep and bear arms and that restrict individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Furthermore, the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.”

My own thoughts:

I was a goody two shoes in school, and still am for the most part. To this day, I can’t tell you what pot smells like and have never known where to get drugs of any form other than from a doc/pharmacy, and even then I’ve never known how to get illegitimate prescriptions. I know some of y’all, maybe all, are roughly old enough to be my parents, and you may have fallen under the 18 yo minimum drinking age, but I am 26 and it has been 21 all my life. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol until my 21st birthday. I’ve drank quite a bit since then, but never enough to be of any concern to anyone.

That said, my aunt that died a couple of weeks ago has battled drug addiction for most of my life. I have a cousin I believe to be in jail right now over methamphetamines, and possibly another cousin (the first cousin’ brother) in jail on similar charges. I also grew up in Bartow County, in what was always described to me as the meth capital of GA.

For a very long time – indeed, my views have only within the past 12 months or so changed on the issue – I believed very firmly that those who did drugs should go to jail, pretty much the same as the GOP. What changed me, I do not know, but I believe it came about as I began to realize the full scope of Freedom. A person who is using drugs recreationally is no danger to anyone but themselves, which falls within the Punch Principle and is therefore allowable. Now, if a person is high and causes a wreck, we should hold them fully accountable for doing so, and I even support making the laws for actual, provable physical harm FAR more stringent than they currently are. These more stringent laws would apply equally to the guy that was high and caused the wreck, to the guy that was drunk when he caused it, and to the guy that fell asleep behind the wheel and caused it. He violated the Punch Principle, and he needs to answer for that. Such is a legitimate excercise of government.

Therefore, government should not have a say in whether a person uses drugs, and if a person on drugs violates the Punch Principle, they should be held accountable for the violation of the Punch Principle, not for the use of drugs, which they were perfectly free to do.

Recently, we’ve begun to hear of all this unrest in Mexico caused by the drug cartels. And yes, it is US Drug Policy, including the Drug War, that has caused this. I completely concur with the official position that “the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.” In a free market unincumbered by laws banning certain substances, prices would be low and profit margins relatively tight. The Cartels would become Corporations, and armed violence over the market would cease as corporations sought better market share through non-violent means, in similar ways that ‘legal’ drug companies currently operate.

Also note that I personally wouldn’t mind a tax on these drugs at a similar level as the current alcohol and tobacco taxes. I don’t have a problem with these taxes currently, as I believe the use of those products to be completely voluntary and therefore if you don’t want to pay the tax, don’t buy the product. I also object to the idea floated by some liberals and moderate conservatives to ‘legalize it and tax the hell out of it’. If you tax it similarly to the current alcohol/tobacco taxes, you achieve a solid balance of providing a solid stream of revenue to government while also allowing the open market to thrive. Yes, you have a level of black market activity, but it is minimal and inconsequential. (BTW: I also don’t believe in prosecution of this black market, even under these ‘legalize and tax’ theories.) HOWEVER, if you ‘tax the hell out of it’, you inevitably drive people back to the black market just as surredly as if you had outright banned the substances, leading once again to most of the problems we already have.

Note that I’ve talked for quite a while on the subject here and haven’t even touched on the jail overpopulation and related issues that would be solved by legalizing drugs.

My First Trip to the Capitol

Most kids take a trip to the Capitol while in school. Most politically inclined people take a trip there at some point due to their political actions, assuming said actions are at a State level.

I took my first trip at 26 yo and it had nothing to do with my budding actions with LP-Ga. It had to do with work, and I kept my personal politics out of it for the day, treating it as an opportunity to support the office with my presence as well as get a general feel for the Gold Dome and maybe do a bit of non-specific networking.

Here’s how it went:

Upon arriving in Atlanta from Albany, my group hiked over to the Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) for a brief meeting before proceeding with the rest of our day. From what I saw, the hallways of this building are fairly small for the amount of people passing through them. Sen. Preston Scott (R-Rome) was walking out of the building as we were going through security. I recognized him based solely on his grilling of freshman Sen. Butterworth last week, but didn’t speak to him.

Next, we went to meet with Rep. Winfred Dukes. When introduced as the office tech guy, Rep Dukes commented that I ‘look like one’. A comment that STILL stings! I thought I looked pretty dang good, as I was wearing the exact same suit as one of the best pictures from my honeymoon a year and a half ago. Of the 10 of us in the group, I was the only one he said anything negative about. Anyways. Moving on.

After the meeting with Dukes, we proceeded to the House gallery where Rep. Ralston had a resolution read recognizing the larger group that my group was a part of. From a techie standpoint, there were a FEW open laptops (2 genuine laptops and 2 netbooks) during the morning devotion, but from a Christian standpoint I would have ignored the guy if I could. He was of the school of TD Jakes and claimed the title ‘Apostle’. I knew that from the introduction, and I knew immediately that there would be little to be gained from listening to the guy. I was right. During the resolutions, a LOT more laptops came out, probably around 20 within my view from the second row of the gallery. Most genuine laptops, a few netbooks.

After our resolution was read, we left the gallery and did the whole ‘stand here and wait’ thing for a few minutes before having a photo-op with Governor Perdue. I got to shake his hand, which was really cool. Yes, I’m probably about the 3 BILLIONth person to do so, but I had never had a Governor within my eyesight before, much less standing roughly 5′ from me or even shaking my hand, so it was cool for me dang it!

After the photo-op with the Governor was more ‘stand here and wait’ waiting on a press conference. Did the press conference and went to a luncheon. The press conference made Lawmakers, but I wasn’t in any of the footage they used. (Yes, I watched a few minutes ago to check!)

At the luncheon, ran into several people. It turns out that freshman Rep. Carol Fullerton had met me before, which I’m assuming means she goes to the church I used to go to before I met my wife since I try to keep a relatively low profile in town. I also ran into Rep. Battles (R-Cartersville), whose wife is one of my former teachers in both middle and high schools. I’ve also known Rep. Battles for most of my life, as he and his wife were consistently on the fringes of my life growing up. (Note that he has only recently became a Representative, I never knew him as Rep Battles until today.) He could have just been doing the ‘politician’ thing of making you think he recognizes you, but when when I told him where I was working he seemed to be genuinely happy that I had done good.

I also met Rep. Mike Cheokas (D-Americus) at the luncheon, and he was a genuinely nice guy to meet. Again, I’ll allow for the possibility that he was just playing ‘politician’, but my honest opinion of the guy right now is that while I may disagree with him politically (and honestly, at this point I can’t tell you anything about his politics other than the D next to his name), he is certainly a very active representative and a very cool guy. He actually seemed interested in this blog as well, we’ll see if that still holds after he reads this thread! 🙂

So that is a 750 word run down of my first trip to the Georgia Capitol Building. The biggest conclusion I drew from today in terms of the overall direction of my own political activity is that while I definitely like the State level of politics, I’ll let others actually go to the Gold Dome. I’ll stick to watching the live feeds and calling/ emailing whoever needs to be contacted (as well as blogging, obviously). I may also visit their local offices, but I’ll cross that bridge at a later point. Honestly, while I could probably handle haunting CLOB or even showing up in a committee meeting for public commenting, the crowds/business in chambers was simply astounding, and completely NOT my style.

So to Reps Fullerton, Battles, and Cheokas, and Dukes, and to Governor Perdue, thank you for making my first trip to the Capitol a memorable one.